Meaghan Stanton (aka Megs), talks to us about her triumph in the 2017 MTBA National Championships held in Canungra, Queensland.
Hot and humid conditions proved tougher for some but Megs found her groove and showed the rest of the field the way to the line in her Masters Women 3 category.
We caught up with Megs and asked her just what it took to get that prized medal.
How long have you been riding road and MTB?
I started riding mountain bikes in 2007, when I entered the Scott 24hr in a team of 3. I'd never ridden single-track before, so it was a full on way to start! My bike was judged to be the worst bike at the event (it weighed 16kg and had no suspension), and for that I won a new hardtail, which was really exciting and helped me get into mountain biking properly.
I joined a local club and started racing cross-country once a month, plus a few marathon and 24hr races here and there. My daughters used to compete as well, but they gave up a few years ago, and I haven't ridden a mountain bike much since then because I haven't really had people to ride with.
I started riding my road bike with a couple of different groups in the Southern Highlands about two years ago and instantly loved it - it's so much more fun to ride with other people and we are lucky to live in a district with some of the best roads, beautiful scenery and very little traffic. But my first love is the mountain bike and I will always come back to that.
What made you decide to go to the Nationals?
Well, I've always really enjoyed racing. Racing through the forest always feels fun in its own right, regardless of what the outcome of the race is! Also, when you're in a race, as opposed to a casual cruise, you ride so much faster, and that makes it more exhilarating. I also love the way I feel after pushing myself to the limit. Nationals just seemed like a good challenge at the right time.
Do you think you were ready for it?
Well, I haven't raced regularly since about 2011, but I'm fitter now than I have ever been before, so what better time to get back into racing?! I had no idea how I would go, but, just wanted to do my best.
What had you done to prepare for it?
To be honest I haven't consciously prepared for racing at all. It's fair to say that I've just been enjoying riding my road bike so much (I don't think of it as training), that it seemed like a good idea to put all this fitness to good use by going in a race. I've only ridden my mountain bike maybe four times in the last six months so I could've practiced that more. But you don't really lose those skills - it's like riding a bike!
Have you ridden the course before?
No, never. The Nationals was held on a private track that was pretty challenging. Steep climbs and technical rocky descents. I doubt many mountain bikers would go for a ride there just for fun! But I suppose a National race should be tough.
How did the Hotmix kit go in the race?
Well the Hotmix kit is super comfy kit, so it was great. Really breathable in the hot and humid conditions on the day - you barely felt it. The chamois is just as comfortable on the MTB as it is on the road bike.
Quite a few people commented on my kit, because it's a bit different from what most mountain bikers usually wear. I really like the styling of the women's Hotmix kits. In a sport that can seem male dominated at times, many women are proud to be redefining what it means to "ride like a girl". To me, a women's kit that is nice and feminine feels like a celebration of that concept.
It looks great on the road, but I think it's perfect for mountain biking too. There's no reason you can't wear "pretty" kit, just because you're likely to get it muddy! And of course you ride better when dressed in style!
What's next in your line up for riding and racing?
Well, riding is a lifestyle choice for me now - most of my riding is just for fun - a way to hang out with friends, not training. But I'm thinking of doing some more cross-country and marathon mountain bike races and hoping to also get into a bit of road racing. A big challenge, like a really long event of some kind, might be on the cards at some point too.
What would you say to fellow female cyclists wanting to race?
Go for it! Don't let anyone tell you what you could have done if... Or, what you should do instead. Seize the day! You aren't too old to learn new skills or take up new pursuits. Also, believe in yourself. If you tell yourself that you will be able to do something, most times you can.
Thank you so much for your time Megs; we really appreciate it. And keep on pedalling!
Megs has been in the Hotmix family from day one and we have always been amazed by her determination and drive with everything she takes on.
She is not only a beacon of inspiration to other women cyclists but to the guys as well. Get your gear on ride your bike, plain and simple.
Feature photo credit: Russ Baker